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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Boston Marathon’

Finding the Culprit: The Race to be Wrong

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Someone tweeted yesterday that “the race to be wrong first has begun in earnest.” And that is so — we’ve seen wild media reports that there were 12 people killed (so far there are 3, with about 150 injured), that two Saudi nationals were in custody (the police talked to a Saudi student who was injured in the bombing), and more. But there are some things that are known and can serve as a basis for speculation.

First, the bombs were in backpacks placed against buildings behind the spectators on the sidewalk, and most of the victims were on the sidewalk. So the intent was to kill and injure as many people as possible, at random.

Second, the bombs were homemade using non-military explosives, built into pressure cookers. They contained ball bearings and possibly other items in order to increase their effectiveness as anti-personnel weapons. They were detonated by either a timer or a remote control device, which could have been a cellphone or other radio receiver.

The authorities will pick up every fragment they can, examine explosive residue to determine how it was made, look for parts of the control device, etc. Then they will deploy the huge amount of manpower at their disposal to try to determine where the pressure cookers and backpacks were purchased, as well as the control devices and the chemicals used to make the explosives.

They will look at the massive quantity of security camera video, photos and videos made by spectators, news footage, etc. to try to spot whoever placed the bombs. They will check hundreds, maybe thousands of leads that they will be given by witnesses.

They will consider Islamic terrorism, right- and left-wing anti-government terrorism, and terrorism by mentally disturbed individuals. They will consider terrorist organizations here and abroad and they will consider “lone-wolf” operations.

Rather than too little evidence, there will be too much. It will take time, but I think they will be successful.

So what do I think they will discover?

Does the viciously random nature of the bombing give a clue to the motive? It was directed at people, including children, who would be expected to be among the spectators. Most terrorists pick targets that embody or symbolize their enemies, as Timothy McVeigh chose the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Anti-government terrorists often see themselves as champions of “the people,” and would be unlikely to want to randomly kill ordinary citizens (McVeigh claimed that he was not aware of the day care center in the Murrah building).

Ted Kacyznski, the Unabomber, targeted universities, airlines, etc., symbols of the technology that he hated. Even George Metesky, the Mad Bomber of Manhattan, placed devices in public places only after his attempts to draw attention to his grievance against Consolidated Edison by bombing its installations was ignored.

On the other, hand, anti-government terrorist Eric Rudolph, who bombed the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics, did so to protest abortion and the “homosexual agenda.” Rudolph also bombed abortion clinics and a lesbian bar, but it would have been difficult to deduce his motives from the Olympics bombing alone.

Islamic terrorists often (but not always) perpetrate acts of terrorism aimed at the U.S. in general and its people. Examples include the Times Square bombing attempt, the two World Trade Center bombings, attempted bombings of the Sears Tower, airports, etc. In Israel, of course, mass murder attempts are frequent. The common factor is that the Islamic terrorist sees his enemy as the nation as a whole, and public institutions or citizens as legitimate targets.

Al- Qaeda’s Inspire magazine, which tells how to “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

What about the bombs? The pressure cooker bomb was described in a DHS bulletin as “[a] technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps.” A description of such a bomb also appeared in al-Qaeda’s English-language “Inspire” magazine. The use of pressure cookers for bombs dates back at least to 2001, so it is certainly possible that the technique is widely known.

All We Know for Sure is that Boston Will Rise

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

It’s too much to say we don’t know squat yet about the bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday, but it’s still pretty close.

It was clarified at the press conference yesterday with government officials that there were no additional unexploded devices found near the finish line of the marathon.  The only devices known about so far are the two that exploded, 13 seconds apart, just before 3:00 PM EDT.

The officials were did not expand on the visit of law enforcement to the apartment building in Revere, M.A. late last night.  We already knew that the young Saudi national who was being questioned yesterday was determined to have nothing to do with the bombing. (He is reportedly no longer a focus of investigation).

According to television reports, explosives were made using pressure cookers loaded with ball bearings.  Fox’s Catherine Herridge spoke about the use of triacetone peroxide (TATP) as the explosive agent. The character of the explosions was consistent with TATP.  These readily available materials don’t tell us much right now about who might have been responsible.  They may in the coming days, if the point of sale or commercial manufacturer can be established.

The bombs were effective, which is something.  But a quick search of the internet turns up multiple sites offering general information on what it takes to put together a TATP device.  The bomb’s characteristics don’t automatically finger anyone or rule out any particular group.

The FBI and Boston Police have disclosed nothing about the ongoing investigation, which is understandable.  As far as we know, no one has taken credit for the attack, and we don’t know of any prior warnings that were issued about it (e.g., like bomber Eric Rudolph’s call to police before his bomb went off at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996, killing one woman, leading to the death of a man from a heart attack, and injuring 111).

So we simply don’t know, and can’t guess right now, who did this.  We can say that the bombing was relatively small in scope.  The explosions were horrific for those in their immediate vicinity, but the bombs were not big ones, and there were only two.  With each hour that passes, it becomes more evident that there is no larger plot requiring a group of terrorists of significant size.

Based on what we know so far, the overall nature of the attack is most similar to Eric Rudolph’s in Atlanta in 1996.  That doesn’t tell us much, given all the things we don’t know yet.  But we can say some things for certain, such as that this was not an attack on a government facility, like the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, nor (contra MSNBC hysteric Chris Matthews) was it mounted on April 19th – the actual date of the OKC bombing and the Waco compound assault. (The mass shooting at Columbine high school was on 20 April 1999).

Certainly, the size of the bombs in Boston was nothing like that of the bomb used by Timothy McVeigh to kill 168 people and injure hundreds more, completely destroying the Murrah Federal Building in the process.  McVeigh’s bomb had an explosive effect more powerful than the 2,000-pound warheads used by the U.S. Air Force and Navy.  It had to be transported to the Murrah Building in downtown Oklahoma City in a moving van.

The smaller-bombing M.O. doesn’t rule out Islamist radicals either.  Faizal Shahad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who had trained with terrorists in Pakistan, tried to detonate a single car bomb in Times Square on 1 May 2010.  As with the Atlanta bombing and the Boston Marathon attack, Shahad was targeting an area with a lot of people in it: going for mass casualties rather than attacking particular buildings.  The list of known foiled attacks in the U.S. since 9/11 indicates that Islamist cells plan attacks in different sizes.  They aren’t all envisioned as huge attacks that will bring buildings down.

See hereherehere, and here for the associations of Hezbollah as well as Al Qaeda in the New York and Boston areas.  If it turned out to be the work of Islamist radicals, this bombing would probably have been launched by fewer than a handful in a loosely connected cell, rather than as a coordinated operation overseen by terror-group leadership.

One possibility, of course, is that the bomber(s) don’t live in the Boston area, and may not even live in New England.  Getting the two relatively small bombs to the attack site would not have required living quarters in the vicinity, or other preparations more traceable than the apparent placement of the bombs in trash cans as recorded on CCTV cameras.  It would have been quite possible to ride the trains and/or buses to the attack site, and disappear quietly after detonating the bombs.  (Doing it this way would have required more than one person, in my judgment – at least while riding the public transportation.)

Where to look for a terrorist who has this in mind, and doesn’t plan to take credit for political purposes, is not clear.  The M.O. would be somewhat reminiscent of McVeigh, however, who sought to hide out after the Oklahoma City attack.

There is much that is similar to others in any given bombing attack.  It is not obvious that any group or type of person in particular mounted this one, nor can any be ruled out.  The law-enforcement authorities have their work cut out for them.

(An aside: an official at Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday credited training done two years ago with Israelis for their preparedness to deal with the casualties flooding the hospital after the bombing.  Law enforcement officials would probably benefit from consulting with the Israelis on their manhunt for the bomber(s).)

In the meantime, our hearts go out to the victims and their families, including the family of little Martin Richard, who at eight years old has so far been the youngest fatality.

We can pray that the doctors and nurses will continue to be fit and energetic as they deal with the awful gore and human pain dealt out by this attack.  I saw a comment on Twitter stating that this attack is a reminder of how important the “injuries” are from such an event, even when the death toll seems small.  So many people will have to finish their lives without the limbs we all rely on for simple normality.  Some were fortunate to have received only superficial wounds; too many will see their lives changed forever by what they have lost.  May God’s grace enfold them all.

But Boston will rise.  Rise to the occasion, rise above the pain and loss, rise beyond where she was 24 hours ago, peaceful under the cool spring sun, enjoying Patriots Day, and waiting for the last runners to get to the finish line.

Originally published at The Optimistic Conservative.

Sixteen Israelis Ran in Bombed-Boston Marathon

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Sixteen Israelis ran in Monday’s terror-ridden Boston marathon, but none of them were wounded in the twin bombings.

Tzviki Bronstein, 57, flew to Boston to run in the marathon and was able to finish the race before the explosions.

He was walking back to his hotel room when he heard the explosions, he told the Hebrew language Yediot Acharonot newspaper. “It was a miracle that more weren’t killed because the place was packed,” he said.

He added that he knew of 15 other Israeli runners, and he was not aware they suffered any injuries from the two blasts, which occurred only 15 seconds apart.

Cleveland Jewish Runner Crossed Finish Line One Hour before Blast

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

A Cleveland Jewish man’s ability to finish the Boston Marathon in less than four hours helped save him from injuries, or worse, in the terrorist attack Monday

“I was in the hotel when the explosions went off, Kevin Goodman, 50, told the Cleveland Jewish News. “The explosions happened about an hour after I finished. I was in the hotel recovering (from the race). I went outside to see the sights. It was gruesome. A lot of blood and limbs.”

Goodman said he knew it was not a gas-line rupture as had first been reported. “I knew they weren’t fireworks,” he said. “I knew there was trouble. I can see the black plumes of smoke coming up to my room. I did go out and help until I was told to go back in (the hotel).

“It’s a tragic day for America and for the city.”

Saudi Questioned in Boston Terrorist Attack

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Police are questioning a Saudi Arabian national for the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon that killed at least three people, one of them an eight-year-old boy, and wounded 140 others Monday. More than a dozen are in critical condition, an indication that the death toll may rise. The bombs were packed with ball bearings, designed to cause maximum physical damage. Victims lost dozens of limbs in the twin bombings.

The suspect is 20 years old, in the United States on a students’ visa, and is under guard at the Boston hospital where he is being treated for severe burns. He was detained approximately two hours after the bombing at the finish line. CBS News reported that Boston police have  a video of a man bringing multiple backpacks to the location of the blast.

Boston police Tuesday morning searched an apartment in a Boston suburb as part of the investigation.

However, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis insisted,  “There is no suspect. There are people we’re talking to.”

President Barack Obama was unable to utter the word “terror” in his initial reaction to the bombings, as if doing so would be an admission that the United States is so secure that it is unthinkable that terrorists could operate in the country.

Sometimes it seems the government wears a proud suit of armor in la-la land, re-living a 1950s cover of the Saturday Evening Post, an exterior that lulls people into thinking that there are no rotten apples in the American pie.

The president indeed had to be careful not label the attack “terror” before being sure. “We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts,” Obama said. “But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this.”

It will take a thorough investigation to find out what ever every person not in a State Dept. straight jacket knows – the terrorist or terrorists who carried out the attack want to destroy the United States.

The White House later stated that the attack was “an act of terror.” It took an hour to put aside the possibility that a mentally ill person blew up peoples; limbs. It too an hour to discard the original report that a gas line had accidentally burst.

American media, remaining politically correct not to insult Islam and inflame Muslim anger, God forbid,  have not reminded citizens that Saudi Arabian radical Islamic fundamentalists were involved in the 9/11 attacks.

A total of five bombs were found in the Boston area, including one that exploded at the John F. Kennedy library, causing no injuries.

The timing of the attack, coincidental or not with “Patriot’s Day,” underlines the motives of the international terrorist campaign against the non-Muslim West.

But the official thinking, such it is called, is that everything is just fine while Rome, make that Washington, is burning.

”Federal officials tonight say there is no reason to think that this is part of any larger threat,” NBC reported. “At this point they believe it is confined to Boston, but a meeting tonight will decide whether any kind of national alert will be sent out.”

Tactically, the attack very likely was not part of a “larger threat”, just an “isolated” incident, just like the 1993 bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center, killing six people and wounding more than 1,000 others;

And just like the “isolated incident” in Oklahoma Cavity in 1995, when a car bomb killed 168 people;

And just like the 9/11 attacks; and just like the 2012 car bomb that was discovered in Times Square but failed to detonate’

And just like the isolated bombs placed in 2010 on two cargo planes bound from Yemen to the United States;

And just like the 2011 pipe bomb that was discovered along the route of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial march in Spokane, Wash.

Officials are well aware that there is a worldwide of terror. They know very well that the attacks on the Boston Marathon are not “isolated” incidents.

But it is more important for officials, from the president on down, to maintain a mood of calm, to show Americans they are in control.

But they aren’t.

On the Scene, Boston Rabbi Offering ‘Some Sense of Serenity’

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Rabbi Yossi Zaklos was a few blocks away from the Boston Marathon route, “on a nice sunny day,” he said, offering tefillin and asking if passersby were Jewish, when he heard a “huge blast.”

“It was a huge blast to my left. Everybody was shaken,” said the rabbi, referring to the first explosion that took place April 15 near the race’s finish line. “Then there was a fireball—I saw it.”

That was the second explosion.

“You can imagine the pandemonium. Everyone was running, and glass was flying around. I jumped into this bar, there was a lot of chaos, you didn’t know what happened,” said the 31-year-old. “I offered people the phone. I guided people with directions. There was a need for assistance, and I tried to offer some sense of serenity, of calm—to offer support.”

Two people were killed, and as of the early evening, as many as 100 were reported to have been injured.

Zaklos was at the scene until about 6 PM, when he said he was leaving to head over to Massachusetts General Hospital, right near his home and where he heard many of the wounded were being sent, to see if he could help. He said he hadn’t heard of any Jewish injuries or fatalities.

Earlier that day, Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman was as shocked as anyone else after hearing about the explosions. Or maybe even a bit more so.

After all, he had to get to four of his five children—students at the New England Hebrew Academy, Lubavitch Yeshiva, in downtown Boston—who were with classmates and teachers watching part of the annual race. The school, open today even though it was Patriots’ Day—a day off for most children in and around the city—is located about a mile and a half from the runners’ route.

“I live north of the city, in Peabody, and I went flying down there,” he said, adding that there was less traffic than usual because of the holiday, and “it’s normally a crawl the entire way.”

“There was an hour left of school when it happened,” the rabbi, 36, continued. “No one knew what was going on, and they were still reporting finding more bombs.”

“It’s just frightening. I got to school, and everyone was feeling the same. We all remember 9/11. And we can’t believe this was happening here in Boston.”

Cell phone service was cut off for a while in Boston, adding to the confusion.

Schusterman’s children were safe, and he said the school put out a notice that everyone was okay.

“After gathering my kids into my car and heading back, trying to field their thousands of questions, I realized that their world, and mine, won’t ever be the same,” Schusterman wrote later via email. “The terrible reality that evil exists and can touch them even here at home is heartbreaking.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/on-the-scene-boston-rabbi-offering-some-sense-of-serenity/2013/04/16/

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